19th century surprise in a phoebe nest, fungi and a newt

I sew in a little house in the Adirondacks as much as possible in the warmer months.  And every year (so far) Eastern Phoebes build a nest under the roof overhang and have little Phoebes – sometimes two broods in a season.  I love watching them. This year I got a chance to examine a nest up close for the first time.  It is a beautiful, delicate, thoughtfully made thing – one little bit at a time (Phoebe’s are pretty small).

phoebe nest

I don’t notice the thread or wool stuffing that floats away while I’m working but apparently they do and there it was, woven into the nest- the soft wooly stuff right on top for warm comfortable babies.  And below that there was another nest ( each brood gets a fresh nest)  with a bit of tulle  from a 19th century gown and Japanese indigo threads. I’m so pleased they found it useful!

phoebe nest

adirondack forest

I also wanted to share  a couple photos from a walk I took in a part of the forest I hadn’t explored before, a long walk off the path and through the wild stuff. The smells were incredible and I saw things I had not encountered before –  like this strange pinkish thing – I discovered later it’s coral fungi.

coral fungi


And I ran into a newt – a lovely little red eft who graciously let me take his picture.


  1. How rewarding it must have been too see some of your castoff threads and fabric incorporated into the Phoebes’ nest. Thanks for sharing. The woods are beautiful, too. My parents are from eastern Pennsylvania, Conyingham area, and I remember a couple of visits when I was a child. Born in Southern California, I really felt that was where I should have grown up. Now I’m in Western Oregon and we have wonderful woods, too, thank heaven.

    • Hi Marilee – I grew up surrounded by wonderful forest too and it is hard to do without it if once you’ve had it – i love getting out of the city as often as possible – happy fall.

  2. Such a delicate little nest ! (and good use of all the stuff that (f)lies around …)

    Ha, we have little brown newts in our (small) garden : they always pretend to be
    dead when I discover them 😉 !

  3. I love the thought of birds using things they find to make something else – isn’t that what us humans aspire too nowadays? And to use some of the antique textiles and scraps you use in your work I’d find that very exciting – in fact, wouldn’t it be wonderful to actually purposefully leave them scraps to use next time they nest, of your choice and see what the little birds make of them.

    • Hi Jill – I will definitely sprinkle some treasures around for them next spring!

  4. Marguerite Hart

    Hi Ann!
    I used to leave fabric and yarn in the trees for my little feathered friends and what a joy it was to see it slowly disappear over the course of the Spring. Love the wee newt you found, I haven’t seen any here in upstate New York where I live but then I haven’t walked in the woods lately as I have to be cautious here locally as hunters are out and about everywhere, even out of season.
    I did enjoy your photos so much though, thank you!

    • Hi Marguerite – I hadn’t come across a newt in ages – he was out sunning himself in the afternoon. I’m glad you enjoyed the photos!

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